altamont850

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I recently applied to be an undergraduate research assistant in a neuroscience lab and I will begin assisting in Fall 2012. I thoroughly researched the lab and I've found that diligent undergrads who stay with the lab for sometime usually get their name published
( I'm planning on staying with the lab for at least 2 years). The PI seems quite friendly and assured me that I will be able to make strides in his lab with time.

This particular laboratory deals with many "hot topics" in neuroscience and have made many significant discoveries and I wonder what I must do to be an actual asset. I've read many publications and I get the gist of them and I know I must learn specific techniques for the lab but how do I ensure I'll be utilized in an appropriate manner?

In addition, how many hours do you guys usually dedicate to the lab on a weekly basis? Does anyone have experience working with laboratory mice?

TL;DR: This is my first research position and I just need some general advice.
 
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just show up and work hard. Start reading some papers to get the gist of some techniques, but you'll learn most of the stuff from just being in lab.


Whats the problem?
 
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Do you know what techniques you'll be using? What is the research? I may have a few pointers but if our two areas are not similar I doubt it would be helpful.
 
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ponyo

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I recently applied to be an undergraduate research assistant in a neuroscience lab and I will begin assisting in Fall 2012. I thoroughly researched the lab and I've found that diligent undergrads who stay with the lab for sometime usually get their name published
( I'm planning on staying with the lab for at least 2 years). The PI seems quite friendly and assured me that I will be able to make strides in his lab with time.

This particular laboratory deals with many "hot topics" in neuroscience and have made many significant discoveries and I wonder what I must do to be an actual asset. I've read many publications and I get the gist of them and I know I must learn specific techniques for the lab but how do I ensure I'll be utilized in an appropriate manner?

In addition, how many hours do you guys usually dedicate to the lab on a weekly basis? Does anyone have experience working with laboratory mice?

TL;DR: This is my first research position and I just need some general advice.

1. Make sure you understand what the lab is trying to do. Understand the experimental design. Think of alternative hypotheses and how the experimental design might be improved. Read up on your PI's rivals' papers. Know the field and the context in which you're working. Don't worry if you don't completely understand yet, but aim to be on a grad student level at least for your own research by the end of 1 semester.

2. Get as much PI face time as possible. Do not act like an idiot around your PI (I do this all the time and as a result my PI thinks I'm a 12 year old)...

3. Be nice to everyone else in lab, even the bitches and the foreign postdocs who don't speak English.
 

Ismet

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It will be slow at first as you learn all the techniques, but you will work up to being responsible for more and more tasks. What will be expected of you depends on the size of the lab and how many projects they have going at once. If it's a huge lab with a bunch of postdocs, grad students, and other undergrads, you might be doing scut work for a while until you work your way up in the ranks. If it's a smaller lab like mine (just a PI and 3 other undergrads), you will have a lot more responsibilities and you will get more individualized attention. It's great that your PI is friendly, hopefully that makes him approachable and you can ask him to teach you a new technique or ask him if there's something more you can be doing.

During the school year, I am in lab 10-12 hours/week (dependent on semester and workload). I have experience working with lab rats (handling them, helping with behavioral tests, I do the surgeries with my PI, assisting with perfusions). I have worked with mice before...they are much more difficult to work with than rats because they are FAST. They are also able to climb up their tails when you pick them up and are more prone to bite than rats. Just don't be afraid of them, because if you're nervous you're only going to make them more nervous.

Just go in prepared to hit the ground running, learn as much as you can, ask questions, appear interested in what is going on. Good luck! :)
 
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